Tea and fruit are a tried-and-true combination; think about all the popular flavored teas where fruit, either dried or flavors created in a lab (not on a tree in nature), are added to tea. Not my cuppa at all. So here is a recipe where real fruit—and seasonal fruit to boot—makes its appearance in a dessert that is topped with tea, but in a gelled form.

Now is the time for persimmons, that orange-skinned fruit in two main forms: Hachiya, the heart-shaped variety which must be eaten when they have ripened fully and yield to a spoon easily otherwise they are tannic and inedible; and the Fuyu variety which may be eaten hard like an apple, or softened (my preference!) over time, with their appealing yielding texture. Softness. Here I pair those sweet but subtle fruits with a smoky tea gelee.  Here’s how I do it.

Persimmon Mousse Topped With Lapsang Gelee

(If you would like to spread the process over two days, then go ahead. Two steps, over two days, if you wish to spread out the work.)

Yield: 4- 6 servings, depending on how generous you wish the servings to be, and dependent also on the capacity of the glasses that you are using.

One Week Before Serving

Source about 1 pound of the nicest persimmons you can find of the Fuyu or flattened variety. Allow them to soften for about a week at room temperature. It is hard to predict when they will reach their peak due to the varying ambient temperatures of the environment in which you store them after buying them, hopefully from a reputable farmers market. At any rate, plan ahead (it is worth it).

Fuyu and Lapsang - A photo of a pile of fuyu persimmons.

Day 1/Making the Persimmon Mousse

When the fruits are soft, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin; cut them into quarters, removing any brown seeds you come across. Now using an immersion blender or small food processor, puree the flesh until fully smooth. Sieve if fibrous. Taste for sweetness. Add sugar if you wish. Usually, the fruits are super sweet and do not need further sweetening.

Whip 2 cups of heavy cream to soft peaks and then fold the fruit puree into the cream. Now spoon or pipe the mousse, using a pastry bag, into your prettiest glasses, preferably cylindrical rather than bulbous, for easier filling. Fill the glasses halfway, cover the glasses tightly with plastic wrap or foil, and then set them into the refrigerator while you prepare the second half of the dessert – later the same day or on Day 2, if you choose to spread the process over two days. 

Day 2/Making the Tea Gelee

Brew some favorite smoky tea (Lapsang Souchong is my go-to here).

Brew 15 grams of tea in a quart of good quality water. Allow to brew for about 5-7 minutes, or until you can taste the smokiness and mellow quality of the tea. Bloom (culinary lingo for soak and dissolve) 8 grams (approximately 1/3 ounce) of either sheet or powdered unflavored gelatin in water. For the sheet gelatin, use 4 sheets each weighing 2 grams for a total of 8 grams.

Soak the sheets in enough ice water in a bowl just to cover them. When the gelatin sheets have softened, remove them from the ice water, squeeze out excess water and place them in a small bowl. Set aside. 

For the powdered gelatin, add 1 ounce of cold water to the gelatin in a small bowl and allow the mixture to sit, so that it absorbs the water. 

Add the squeezed-out sheets of gelatin or the softened powdered gelatin into the hot brewed tea. While the mixture is still hot, add sugar to taste (remember that the persimmon puree is unsweetened or only lightened sweetened, and the whipped cream folded into the fruit puree is unsweetened) and stir again to dissolve. Now let the mixture cool to room temperature and then gently pour it over the persimmon cream in the glasses. It should float mostly on top of the mousse. Some might flow down into the sides of the glass (That is OK.) Return the glasses to the refrigerator and let the gelee set for about 1 hour.  Serve directly from the refrigerator with a thin spicy ginger snap cookie, if desired.

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